Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Say yatuda UP eh?

If you are following along on a map, I made it to the Upper Peninsula (UP) yesterday and found a great (free) campsite that was only slightly disturbing due to the presence of animal skeletons; two beavers and an unknown number of deer. Nothing was fresh and so I figured they were left from the last hunting season.

While checking my map last night I realized I had been across the UP several times and always liked it. But, there are routes I haven't tried, and the unknown draws me. So this morning I turned east and headed for the boarder crossing. Shortly I will begin my first international motorcycle tour by crossing in to Canada. From there I will continue my westward journey along the north shore of Lake Superior and Thunder Bay.

I plan to turn off my cell phone so I don't get charged any crazy international rates. If you are trying to reach me, email will be best. I should only be off the air for three days (two nights) before I reach the U.S. and Duluth, MN.

For now, here are a couple of pictures from the road. One turtle (possibly snapping), one rustic campsite, and two pictures of a tiny tree frog that spent the night on the motorcycle while I spent the night on the ground.




Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Only a few more days in Michigan before I head west.

Amazing how time flies. I sometimes wish I was still working so I didn't have so much to do! Hahaha just kidding! Here are a couple of pics from some of the recent activities.

One more picture from the Downers Grove Criterium. As I said before, if you can go see a bicycle race in person, do so.

Two photos of Pico (the dog, seen here held by Ivan). I did not get a picture of Pico's friend Max, the English Mastiff. Ivan said he did not even want to try and hold him...



New tires on the motorcycle called for creative solutions. No stands to hold the bike but both wheels had to come off...



Camping in the Manistee National Forest. It rained that night and most of the next day.


I spent a day at the Gilmore Auto Museum, reportedly the 4h largest auto museum in the country/world/solar system or some such. It was large, a series of old barns refinished in order to display classic cars, mostly from before WW2.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I was in Downers Grove last weekend (SW of Chicago) watching the mighty Jake race again. He finished 6th in the National Criterium Champions. More pictures and maybe some words to follow, for now here is a teaser; a shot of Jake at work on a rainy day in Illinois.

 
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Grand Rapids Criterium

Last weekend I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a bicycle race. I was there to watch the mighty Jake do his thing. And he did. (click the photos for larger versions)

The race was held downtown on closed roads. The loop was just over 6/10s of a mile and the pack of around eighty professional races would circle the track for 90 minutes, plus 5 laps. Jake's Spinergy team was represented by only 5 riders. Some teams had more, some had less. Although they work together, only one rider can win.
From Grand Rapids Crit

Early on, one Spinergy-rider was forced wide in a corner and barely avoided crashing. Unfortunately, the incident cost him momentum and he lost contact with the field. At racing speed, the riders were hitting 30 mph on the straights and cornering at around 20. Once you drop off the back of the group, it is virtually impossible to catch up on your own. That left four on the Spinergy team. Their goal was to stay in contact with the ever-changing leaders of the race.
From Grand Rapids Crit

From Grand Rapids Crit

From Grand Rapids Crit

The laps were taking less than 2 minutes and every other lap or so, some ambitious rider would sprint out in front of the group, trying to get a lead. This was usually futile. Wind funneled between the buildings meant at some point on the course, there was a headwind. A rider alone or in a small group has to do a lot more work to maintain speed than a rider in a large group, so the break-aways (as they are called) kept getting caught by the main group. Until around halfway through the race, that is.

That was when a rider named Zirbel accelerated off the front of the group. Zirbel is a very highly ranked nationally and considered a threat by all the other riders hoping to win. Only one rider was able to respond... The Mighty Jake.
From Grand Rapids Crit

The two of them joined forces and showed the rest of the field the meaning of speed. Taking turns drafting, they created a gap between themselves and the rest of the group that was almost a half a lap at one point. A half a lap in front of a field of about fifty professional racers trying to catch them (by now a lot had dropped off).
From Grand Rapids Crit

They took turns drafting each other but it was not that simple. MJ (Mighty Jake) is 5' 10" while Zirbel is 6' 04" tall. The photos really show the difference. They managed to stay away, though the gap would shrink and grow. With one lap to go, Zirbel dug deep into his reserves of power and rode away from Jake. The distance from the final corner to the finish line was about 140 yards. On the podium Zirbel said he wasn't sure he could beat Jake in a sprint over that distance. His extra height and weight would make it tough to accelerate as fast as Jake. His best chance was to use his size and muscle mass to get away and he did. They rounded the final corner with about 20 yards between them, too much for Jake to make up in the short final straight. He took second place with the rest of the field fighting for third, but was also given an award for being the Most Aggressive Rider.
From Grand Rapids Crit

If you get a chance to watch a bicycle criterium in person, please go. Pick a strong looking team and watch the dynamics of the race. Cheer them on, with no motors, the riders can hear what you yell as they pass. And if you are like me, it will inspire you to get on your bike and ride.

It's a birthday!

If you have been looking for updates, I apologize for the pace. I have been spending afternoons scraping loose paint from the walls of a house. Not time for casual retirement-ing and posting. Also, the much anticipated photos from the snowmobile museum have gone missing. I'll post them later if I find them and if I continue to get bombarded by requests for them.

More recently, I had the honor of attending a birthday party with some old friends last weekend. If you know me, you'll know that a party for a 3-year old might not be my first choice for entertainment. But these wise parents realized two important things during the planning: A) a 3-year old will enjoy almost any party and B) they won't remember it very long. So while the party was definitely for the 3 year old, with presents and balloons and cupcakes, a good time was had by all who attended regardless of age.